NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) – A throng of supporters met Bill Cosby outside the courtroom Monday where his trial kicks off this morning on a charge of indecent sexual assault.
Though 79-year-old Cosby maintains that his 2004 sexual encounter with Andrea Constand was consensual, the accuser says she was drugged and raped at Cosby’s Cheltenham home.
The pair met at Temple University where Cosby was a trustee and Constand worked as director of operations for the women’s basketball team. This morning, a Temple University sticker featured prominently on the back window of a black SUV that drove Cosby to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.
Wearing a black suit, Cosby was escorted into the building by his aid, Andrew Wyatt, and by Keshia Knight Pulliam, the actress who played Rudy Huxtabell on “The Cosby Show.” Chants of "Free Cosby" resounded as Cosby entered the building where he has already faced roughly 18 months of pretrial proceedings.
Constand is one of dozens of women with assault claims against the entertainer, dating back to the 1970s, but none of the others came forward in time to hurdle the statute of limitations.
Cosby’s arrest followed renewed attention in the case, which came to a boil after fellow comedian Hannibal Buress went viral with a stand-up bit about how Cosby’s family-friendly image managed to overcome recurring sexual allegations.
Responding to the resulting frenzy, a federal judge released an incriminating deposition Cosby gave when Constand brought a 2005 civil case against him. Before reaching a confidential settlement with Constand, Cosby admitted to giving women quaaludes before having sex with them.
“It's his words, from his mouth, that incriminated him,” Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden said of the deposition in her opening statement Monday.
Pointing at Cosby dramatically throughout her opening, Feden also read the jury a portion of Cosby's 2005 deposition in which he admitted to having a romantic interest in Constand from "the first time [he] met her."
Defense attorney Brian McMonagle meanwhile used his opening statement to portray Cosby and Constand’s relationship as consensual.
“They kissed, they petted, they had dinners,” said McMonagle, an attorney with the firm McMonagle, Perri, McHugh & Mischak.
With the prosecution arguing that Constand did not reciprocate Cosby’s interest, however, Feden emphasized their 37-year age difference, saying Constand looked to Cosby as a mentor and friend.
"Trust and betrayal and the inability to consent is what this case is about,” Feden said, a phrase repeated throughout the prosecution’s opening statement.
On the night of her assault, the prosecutor said, Constand had sought career advice from Cosby. When she took the blue pill Cosby gave to "help her relax," Feden said, she lost the muscle strength in her body.